Spotlight: Find A Wrench
Find A Wrench works with dealerships and repair shops across the country to help them find and acquire top talent. They help clients hire techs by managing job postings on over 100 job boards, actively recruiting in over 500 social media groups, performing personalized outreach, and managing all incoming applicants. They were recently spotlighted by the University of Wisconsin School of Business as a success story for their entrepreneurship program, and have been recognized consistently by industry partners.
We sat down with CEO and founder, Jay Goninen, to learn about why he started the business, and what it means for the future of the mechanical industry.
What inspired you to create Find A Wrench?
My family has owned a small independent automotive repair shop for most of my life. I started out working on cars, but it definitely wasn’t the right fit for me. I still loved the industry, so I ventured out into roles in sales and management, and all the jobs I took had some element of service repair to them. All throughout I saw an ongoing theme of shops struggling to find great techs. When I saw that we could help them, it became easy to understand that this was what I wanted to do.
Why is it so hard to find qualified mechanics, and how does Find A Wrench help solve for the shortage?
It’s easy to point to the lack of young people coming into the skilled trades, but I think there’s even more to it. We’re going to need to replace tens of thousands of employees as baby boomers retire, and to think that we at FAW can change that overnight is simply not realistic. So, we really work on training our dealer and shop clients that they have to be proactive and have a plan aimed at strategically finding quality talent. We equate it to doing maintenance on your car. If you don’t change your oil, your engine is going to blow up. If you don’t recruit on a continual basis, your service business is going to prematurely die.
Tell us about your company’s background, and the journey to building Find A Wrench.
I actually bought the web domain to Find A Wrench in the mid-2000s with the idea of developing something around helping shops find techs. I didn’t know anything about recruiting, and it was kind of a pipe dream at the time but I kept renewing the web domain every year.
In 2017, my wife and I were expecting our first child and started to entertain the idea of going a different direction. I was leading the parts and service teams at a seven store John Deere dealership, which required fairly long hours away from home and was becoming tougher on our family. Our son came about five weeks early, and we really made the decision in the NICU of the hospital to make a go of it. So, we wrote up a business plan in the hospital and started our planning from there.
Being that it was a service that I made up out of the blue, you’re not really sure if anybody is going to buy it. So, I called around to a few of my friends in the industry and offered to find them techs for free. In the background, I was figuring out how I was actually going to find these people. My first placement came in North Carolina, and it’s been a whirlwind of growth and learning ever since.
How is Find A Wrench different than other staffing solutions in your industry?
We only recruit for dealerships and shop, and it gives us an extreme advantage. We speak the language of shops and technicians, our marketing efforts are laser focused, and we truly love the industry. It’s a very tight knit community that we take a lot of pride in being a part of!
Describe how you think Find A Wrench is helping the gig economy grow. How do you help gig workers?
Our industry is going to change drastically over the next 10 years. The impact that Uber had on business in general has been crazy. Although there has been a lot of pressure on them for their ethical behavior, their model is genius. We have some ideas on ways that it will impact business over the coming years, but the general feeling is that we need to make it easier for people to do their jobs. This includes flexibility, quality pay, and good benefits. As of right now, we’re just helping gig workers connect with employers, but we see a very large expansion into this in the coming years.
How has the on-demand environment changed the technology industry?
To me, it’s created a whole other avenue for entrepreneurs to go. I read a book called Blue Ocean Strategy that talks about value innovation. Value innovation is defined as the simultaneous pursuit of differentiation and low cost. The on-demand environment opens opportunities for entrepreneurs to capitalize on.
What’s on the horizon? What new trends do you foresee as we enter 2020?
As a company, we’re focused on launching our new portal for our clients giving them more visibility into the recruiting process, and then we want to create more of a mechanic-facing mobile app. As an industry, the demand for mechanics has never been higher, and we only see that demand increasing. The need for mobility and flexibility is going to have an enormous impact on our industry moving forward. I really feel like we’ve got an opportunity to drive our industry forward, and that’s extremely exciting!
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